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Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl Insights

December 30th, 2008 · Tags:Sports

I won’t lie. My ears perked up when I heard that former Texas Tech great Kliff Kingbury was on the coaching staff at Houston … for tomorrow’s upcoming Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl.

Passing Leader Case Keenum

Passing Leader Case Keenum

Remember? People used to say KK was a “system quarterback” as he methodically rewrote the record books. Well Texas Tech — spurred on by the genius that is Mike Leach — is still airing it out. I have been a self-admitted Leach evangelist for years …

But what’s this? Yes, Graham Harrell of Texas Tech throws so much he probably should be pulled from the game due to a “high pitch count.” But notice who leads the United States in total yards passing — young Case Keenum, quarterback of the Houston Coo-Gs, weighing in at 4,993 yards.

So when I met Coach Kevin Sumlin of Houston it begged the question in jest, “With those kind of numbers, is your quarterback a product of the ‘Kevin Sumlin system?'”

Coach Kevin Sumlin, Lt. Col. Gadson, Coach Troy Calhoun

Coach Kevin Sumlin, Lt. Col. Greg Gadson, Coach Troy Calhoun

Sumlin just laughed, “What we do on offense is what we do. Coach Holgorsen did a great job with the transition of the offense. You have to have the people to do that (put up big numbers.) You don’t hear people talking about system quarterbacks if they don’t have numbers too. I know that we have been able to move the football from point to point and our quarterback, our receivers and our offensive coaches have had a lot to do with that.”

When I pulled Air Force Coach Troy Calhoun aside, I had been thinking about the discipline on any football team … probably compounded when you coach young men about to embark on a military career.

So, Coach Calhoun … did you see that certain NFL quarterback last Sunday … the one who “overruled” his coach on national TV, and sent the punting team back to the sidelines so that he could go for a first down on fourth and one (which was successful, by the way)?
Coach Calhoun answered respectfully, “Well, unless you were there, it’s hard to give you a response about that.”

So then Coach Calhoun, do you think your players would have waved you off and sent your punter back to the sideline?

“No, sir.”

'Cowtown Skyline' (commemorative footwear)

'Cowtown Skyline' (commemorative footwear)

So that was the extent of my shoot-from-the-hip blogger questioning. With several excellent opening statements by both teams, most of my other questions had already been answered. He are some highlights from the press event the day before the bowl game:

Coach Calhoun on senior linebacker Hunter Altman:
“Hunter plays outside linebacker for us. He is extremely agile, very involved and all over the field. He did that for us last year on special teams and this year he has made a lot of plays. He is instinctively one of those guys that is always around the football.”

On senior tight end Travis Dekker:
“Travis missed the first five games of the season and he has recovered rapidly. He is getting ready to go to medical school. He and Hunter are two terrific young men. They are what we want as graduates of the Academy, and they are good football players too.”

And here are Coach Sumlin’s comments on Case Keenum and Phillip Hunt:
“I couldn’t be prouder, particularly in my first year of being here, of these two guys. I say this all the time but a coaching transition is the hardest for the seniors and these two guys have accepted us as the coaching staff and excelled this year. Case Keenum has gotten a lot of credit, and rightfully so, I think he has really proved, in leading the country in total offense, that he is an elite force on offense with a bunch of young guys around him, and of course Phillip Hunt is a defensive player who can change the game, a guy who is at the top of the country in sacks, these guys are the heart and soul of the team and I can’t be more appreciative of them. These guys have taken the leadership role and have played hard.”